One thing we may forget as we’re crushing our daily routines isn’t to add that extra ten pounds to your final set, it’s to make sure we’re hitting the pillow for at least eight hours of healthy sleep. While it’s true that sleep creates the same catabolic conditions of fasting, there are ways you can hack your sleep cycle to further stimulate protein synthesis.
The process of protein synthesis is essential to building muscle. As long as protein synthesis outpaces protein breakdown, you build muscle. So wouldn’t a serious bodybuilder want to limit their sleep time to maximize protein synthesis? Technically, no.
One of the many benefits of sleep is the release of all the super rad hormones that secrete throughout your body. Including, the big kahuna, human growth hormone. When you’re in a deep REM cycle, your body releases myriad beneficial hormones and processes that keep your body and cells healthy. During this process you’re burning considerably less energy than when you’re awake. That’s where you can hack the process and turn a catabolic state into an anabolic state.
Some bodybuilders will enjoy a meal before bed. If that’s how you roll, that’s great, but many people have issues sleeping on a full stomach, and there are loosely corroborated health issues with eating right before bed. But those warnings are centered around eating the wrong foods before bed – like desserts and candy. And there are folks with GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) or other forms of acid reflux that absolutely should not eat before going to bed. While that may be what the body craves late at night, there’s a better way than stuffing your face and then trying to relax without feeling like your chest is about to cave in because you’re too full.
Chewing down a Quest Bar before bed provides your body with 20+ grams of protein, and if you’re truly serious about your bulk, you’ll set an alarm to wake up after your first REM cycle and have another one. That should provide you with at least 360+ calories and 40+ grams of protein so by the time you wake up your body has avoided protein breakdown and you’re ready to hit the gym with 40+ grams of protein in your tank.
If always got bulk on the brain, rethinking your sleep strategy could be what’s missing to give you the upper hand come competition time.
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